Graphology: Minding one’s P’s and Q’s



By Skylar Khan

Special to the Crier 

Research into the origin of the phrase Minding one’s P’s and Q’s revealed some interesting theories.

One is that when print type was set by hand in olden days, these two lower case letters which are mirror images of each other easily got mixed up. The expression thus was coined to remind type setters not to switch them by mistake.

Another suggestion is that it originated as a way of keeping tally of customers’ drinks in British pubs and taverns. Marks under column P (for pint) or Q (for quart) were made on the pub’s blackboard. Both drinker and bartender had to mind their P’s and Q’s: the first to make sure he was not paying for another’s drinks and the latter to be sure that all drinks were paid for.

Today however, Minding ones P’s and Q’s most commonly refers to good manners and etiquette.

Graphologically speaking, these two letters can reveal very interesting details about a writer’s personality.

The letter p stands for physical action. It lets us know how well we accommodate our body’s need for action and/or tension release.

№ 1. Copybook cursive lower case p.

№ 2. The writer’s physical activities are in balance with his/her level of energy. Performance is not limited to physical aspects alone, but manifests itself in mental activity as well. The retraced p-stem is indicative of perfectionism.

№ 3. Because of recent surgery, this writer has been unable to resume her daily three mile walks. Lack of physical activity has resulted in restlessness and frustration, as seen in the looped upstroke of the letter p. This style of writing the letter p is often seen in, but not restricted to, athletes who are prevented from participating in training sessions due to penalties or injuries.

№ 4. If there is a “backward” way of writing a p, this one may serve as a classic example! Emphasis is on the unusual. The lady is both creative and aggressive. Yet, these two traits can be an asset in her career as sales associate.

№ 5. This writer actively seeks an argument. Notice the inappropriately high upper extenders of the letter p. The first p indicates that she enjoys debating factual subjects. The second p’s upper extender is looped. Her imagination comes into play during discussion, thereby altering facts. Don’t start an argument with this individual. You cannot win.

№ 6. Here is another example of an unusual p in the word “put.” The letter p with its upper and lower loops is barely legible and the writing’s overall appearance is one of restlessness and argumentativeness. Once she starts talking, she will not tolerate interruption. However, lack of pen pressure has a softening effect on her behavior. Her careless omission of the letter u in put further indicates deficient mental discipline and negligible work habits.

№ 7. This atypical and ornate p represents the writer’s dissatisfaction with status quo. The person has unrealistic expectations about reality and she is frustrated by her inability to establish and maintain intimate relationships.

  The mirror image of p is the letter q which stands for altruism. The letter Q is the only letter of the alphabet that is not directed to one’s self or the past. It is directed toward the future and other people. Not many words in the English language include the letter q and therefore fewer samples are available for comparison.

№ 1. Copybook cursive letter q.

№ 2. Unassuming simplification of letter formation indicates an efficient mind. The downstroke is straight and very short. The writer prefers short term goals to lengthy projects. She likes to work alone. Personality type is sincere and modest.

№ 3. This particular q is shaped copybook-like. Of special interest however is the overlapping stroke on top of the letter which looks like a tiny roof. A cover-stroke or over-score is indicative of a writer’s desire to be protective. This particular specimen was penned by a professional accountant. The protectiveness may be aimed at her business, herself or her family.

№ 4. A rather unusual and disjointed q gives evidence of a creative mind. The writer lifts the pen and, by economizing movement and preserving rhythm, he crosses the downstroke. The writer hopes to detach himself from materialistic interests and physical activity.

  Some of the handwriting samples presented herein are quite unusual. They are unique to each individual writer.

Discovery of unusual letter formations make a handwriting analyst’s heart beat a little faster. Whenever we think that there could not possibly be new variations of these letters, a different exemplar pops up. There seems to be no limit to the output of creativity of expression as part of the human experience.

Minding one’s p’s and q’s during the holiday season simply means: Remember your manners and be polite. Happy New Year!

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